Authorities searching for 16-year-old turtle named 'Squishy' stolen from the Houston Zoo

PHOTO: A Siebenrocks snake-necked turtle is pictured.PlayHouston Zoo
WATCH News headlines today: May 30, 2019

Authorities are searching for a 16-year-old turtle stolen from the Houston Zoo as well as the suspect who allegedly called an Uber to make his getaway.

The Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle, named "Squishy," was stolen on March 5, the Houston Zoo said in a statement. Squishy was taken during the "Free Tuesday" event at the zoo, according to a criminal complaint filed in Harris County, Texas. There were no security cameras in the turtle aquarium, according to the criminal complaint.

The suspect, identified as 21-year-old Jaden Andel, allegedly ordered an Uber to make his getaway from the zoo, according to the probable cause statement.

The Uber driver, who contacted the zoo after conducting the ride, told them that he had given a ride to a man who was carrying a turtle in his hands, the complaint states. The suspect allegedly entered the car "in haste" and told the driver that he was "excited" because he had just "liberated" the turtle from the zoo and had contained it inside a bag.

PHOTO: Surveillance video taken at the Houston Zoo shows suspect Jaden Andel, 21, on the day he allegedly stole Squishy the 16-year-old Siebenrocks snake-necked turtle. via Houston Police Department
Surveillance video taken at the Houston Zoo shows suspect Jaden Andel, 21, on the day he allegedly stole Squishy the 16-year-old Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle.

The turtle weighs just over 2 pounds, Jackie Wallce, senior director of public relations for the Houston Zoo, told ABC News.

During the ride, the suspect allegedly stated in a phone call that he planned to fill his bathtub with water and place the turtle in it, according to court documents. The driver then dropped the suspect off at the Houston House apartments on Fannin Street, the complaint states.

Andel later allegedly posted a video of the turtle inside a bathtub to his Instagram account, according to the complaint.

On April 22, investigators spoke with the managers of the apartment complex, who stated they "were well aware of the stolen turtle incident" and that the suspect had been in the lobby of the apartment complex "with a turtle in plain view and was boasting that he had stolen the turtle from the Houston zoo," according to the probable cause statement.

PHOTO: A Siebenrocks snake-necked turtle is pictured. Houston Zoo
A Siebenrock's snake-necked turtle is pictured.

The managers also told police that Andel was living at the complex with a roommate, Edward Willey III, in March, adding that they were both ordered to leave due to incidents of complaints, the court document states. Police later interviewed Willey, who admitted to having the turtle and apologized for the alleged actions of Andel. Willey also stated that they had "gotten rid of the turtle" but "refused to say where, only that it was released in a safe place," according to the complaint.

Andel has been accused of stealing the turtle and bragging about the theft, Kese Smith, public information officer for the Houston Police Department, told ABC News. Andel has been charged with felony theft from a nonprofit, according to the criminal complaint.

Squishy is valued at more than $2,500 but is considered "near priceless" due to its advanced age, according to the complaint. It is tagged with a RFID chip and is in "significant danger" because of its need for a specialized environment, the court documents state.

Surveillance videos taken on the day Squishy was stolen show Andel at the zoo, police said. Neither Andel nor Squishy have been located, Smith said.

"The Houston Zoo will not tolerate the theft or endangerment of any of our animals, big or small," the zoo said in a statement. "After extensive investigation by HPD detectives, we are prepared to prosecute to the furthest extent the law allows and do everything we can to get Squishy returned safely."

ABC News could not immediately reach Andel for comment.